I don’t know about you, but paying mothers to attend ante-natal classes in a country like Nigeria that’s rife with intelligent and abundant human resource who all think corruption is the best form of making money, that finding ways to siphon money anyway possible is the status quo, doesn’t seem like the cleverest way to reduce maternal mortality.
Granted this idea makes quite a lot of sense. It’s worked in some countries with education and improving family planning and child spacing in India, but Nigeria isn’t India. Nigeria is that nation in West Africa that has the reputation of being the Wild West for first time foreigners or experts. Tread at your own peril, pretty much says it all. This latest idea by the Nigerian government is in a word: unsustainable. Seriously, who do they think they’re kidding with, fools? Don’t they know the facts?
Hospitals lay deserted, crumpling and out of order, if present at all, because the funds injected into the projects had “mysteriously misplaced”. How much so for “cash in hand” payments for ante-natal visits made? Over here, we’ve got lots of Ghost Workers who’ve been receiving salaries for decades that the authorities just found out about. If this scheme is implemented, no doubt we’ll be hearing countless news about “Ghost Pregnant Women” all over the nation. Needless to say, this so called program won’t last long, unless those profiting illegally from it will do whatever it takes to keep it there. “Man must chop”, as the saying goes and truly, a man must eat to survive. Good luck to he who stands in his way.
Conventional wisdom would permit the simple reduction of consultation and reduction fees at general hospitals that are mostly government funded, as opposed to just paying women to come for antenatal counselling.
Besides, family planning is a bit controversial with the multiple religious beliefs and ethnic groups in Nigeria alone. The children are gifts from God or Allah, depending on your religious views and as such, families, especially Islamic families have been known to have 14 children and then some. With this initiative, children won’t only be seen as God’s gift, but the money a reward from the government. And I have no doubt whatsoever, that certain families will encourage more pregnancies, earlier marriages and absolutely NO family planning method whatsoever.
Besides, does the government know how many people live in Nigeria? We are 167 million people and all that’s being budgeted for this initiative is 15 billion naira. The average number of children in a family is around 3 to 4 children.
Maybe its just me, and I’m disillusioned by my government’s lack of initiative in their endless “initiatives”, but really, does this make sense??? Shouldn’t the government and those responsible be focused on improving the health facilities, training personnel and making these services accessible to the poor? Shouldn’t we find ways to curb the ever present corruption that blocks the pipes of the Nigerian socio-economic state? Should we as a people focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) with sustainable and implementable programs and initiatives instead of this?